July 8, 2012

Learned Tot: Think Inside the Box

Apparently much like summer reading, summer learning is all the rage. To keep our own tots on their toes we stocked up on workbooks and educational toys reside in the living room for easy access.This year we are also trying something different. Each evening we assemble "the boxes." Each sturdy box (we had a few Brooks Brothers boxes laying around waiting for a purpose) is an activity with a slip explaining the task and all the necessary provisions. Each box has a theme and the contents of the box are usually a surprise. Here are some that proved popular with the Klatch youngsters:

This strange mammal is aardvark (a mammal). 

Special Assignment: Animals (Parent Involvement: MEDIUM to HIGH)
Supplies: sheets of animals stickers (pulled from a sticker book) and firm paper and labeled "mammals," "reptiles," "amphibians," "birds," "fish," and "insects." Tot's job is to organize animal stickers putting them where they belong. If you have not discussed animal classes before, including a book would be helpful (or National Geographic has a great online resource about different animal types).

Skills: in addition to learning about biology, this box is an opportunity to teach new vocabulary, logic (sorting animals where they belong) and critical thinking (like debating where the lobster belongs).

Beading a pattern was a favorite at our house - and it was the simplest to put together!
Special Assignment: Bead a Pattern (Parent Involvement: LOW)
Supplies: shoelaces and plastic pony beads; Tot's assignment is to make patterns lacing beads on the shoelaces. You can either provide a list of simple patterns (ie green-pink-green-pink) or let them create their own.

Skills: fine motor skills and math reasoning.

You could also include modeling clay to make terracotta warriors.

Special Assignment: China (Parent Involvement: MEDIUM-HIGH)
Supplies: With boxes spotlighting a country the variety is really endless. Here are a few ideas from Michael's (yes, the one that sells every imaginable craft supply). In addition to the craft (a coloring page of Chinese flag), this box included a book about the Terracotta Army and assignment to build the Great Wall of China using wooden blocks.

Skills: Geography, History, Art - check out Geography post for more ideas

Here are some additional ready-made kits to consider:

  • Kiwi Crates are available as subscriptions - way cool packaging thought looking at the sample crates these kits veer more towards crafts than our own tots like.
  • Highlights Top Secret Adventures - these are packets of "whodunit" variety set around the world. The clues lead to answers. The kits are for 7+ kids so while younger set will enjoy the journey, be prepared for more hands-on involvement.
  • Little Passports - I am a fan of this around the world adventure subscription concept.

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